I would like to thank West London Citizens for holding the emergency assembly on the NHS changes at the Cardinal Wiseman School on 22 February. This was an interesting and well-attended event, which had a panel with the Vice Chair of the new Ealing Commissioning Consortium and the Leader of council amongst others.
However, it was unfortunate that the format did not allow questions from the public as I could sense the depth of feeling on this emotive issue.
Whilst we were assured that the health of Ealing residents is the primary objective of the Commissioning Consortium I am very concerned about certain services, such as the stroke unit, moving away to a centralised unit at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow.
Many people were not at all pleased with this suggestion. Not only do we feel the higher risk of longer emergency travel times to another hospital outside the borough but we also see longer the travel times and costs to visit our friends and families in a hospital outside Ealing. Public transport links between Ealing and Harrow are not easy.
It seems to me that Ealing Hospital will lose out in the merger of Ealing Hospital NHS Trust and the North West London Hospitals NHS Trust. Who is going to stand up for Ealing during merger negotiations?
The Tory-led coalition also reassures us that no hospitals will be closed, this may be true but what use is a hospital building without doctors and nurses? Is it possible the freed up space in the Ealing Hospital will be rented to the private sector? Will there be significant job losses in Ealing as hospital services are moved away? Ealing/Southall area has one of the highest levels of health inequalities in the country, will there be an impact assessment made available to the public? How can the market and privatation of health services lower NHS costs when we see what privatisation has done to UK rail costs, which are now amongst the highest in Europe?
There are many unanswered questions and I believe Ealing residents deserve a better explanation from our local Tory representatives as to what is really happening to local health services.
Ealing Green Party